My daughter turned 18 recently and as any parent does I thought back to the day she was born and considered the changes that have happened in our lives since that singular moment.
Several days earlier my father-in-law had passed away and again my thoughts were dominated by events of the past, fueled by hours of gazing at photographs and watching home videos as we prepared for his funeral mass.
“Change is the only constant,” as the saying goes and any time spent in reflection of your life certainly reinforces that truth. Change swirls incessantly around us and we bob and weave in response to it as best we can. Some of us adapt well, others struggle with change.
I was thinking how my garden has changed over the years as I looked at photos of a much younger self and my infant daughter in the garden at our first house. When we first married my wife and I had a ground floor apartment in Richmond, BC with a fairly large patio. It didn’t take long before I had more containers than patio.
We had no children, I worked in a garden centre, but I had no garden of my own except for what I could grow on a north facing patio. It turns out I could grow quite a bit, and I enjoyed my container garden immensely.
When we made the move back to the Okanagan we rented a house for about a year. Gardening consisted mainly of cutting the huge expanse of lawn, pruning the overgrown cherries and apples and planting some bulbs that fall. And, of course, nurturing plants in all the containers I moved with us.
By the time we had made the decision to start a family we had purchased a house (for a price that seems obscenely low by today’s standards) in Summerland, and predictably I jumped in with both feet and started moving earth in earnest.
Before our daughter had turned one I had planted a vegetable garden, created two perennial borders, planted a Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana) to commemorate her baptism and a Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) and generally filled every available space with annuals. It was my first real garden and I loved every second I spent out there creating something beautiful for my new family.
I had a similar outburst of energy a few years later when we moved to a bigger house, in anticipation of a second child. That was nearly 16 years ago and the garden has matured, my children are growing up and I can begin to see a day when it will be just my wife and I again.
The garden has had to be shuffled down the priority list on many occasions over the years for a whole host of reasons. Let’s be honest, there are times during the frenzied moments of a busy life when you look out and see the overgrown mass of foliage and wonder why you took on such an onerous project.
What I have come to realize about gardening over the years is this; it’s not a fad or a hobby that you were passionate about once. It’s a part of your life that stays with you like dirt under your fingernails that you can’t wash away. The time and energy you devote to the garden changes as your life’s circumstances progress.
Change is the only constant, but the garden will always be there. I decide how much or how little of my resources I want to put into it depending on what else is happening in my life and the garden waits patiently for me to appear.